Biennial Industrial Water Survey (IWS)

Detailed information for 2017




Every 2 years

Record number:


This survey is being conducted to provide Canadians with national and regional indicators related to the use of water in industry.

Data release - Scheduled for October 2019


This survey provides information about the intake, costs, sources, treatments and discharge of water used for the manufacturing, mining and thermal-electric power generating industries in Canada. These data are used in the development of environmental accounts and fulfill the requirements for producing water-related indicators as part of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) published by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The IBSP aims at collecting industry and product detail at the provincial level while minimizing overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy.

Reference period: Calendar year


  • Environment
  • Environmental quality

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of locations primarily involved in manufacturing, coal mining, metal ore mining, non-metallic mineral mining (excluding sand and gravel quarrying), and thermal-electric power production. Thermal-electric power production includes fossil-fuel and nuclear electric power generation.

Instrument design

The Industrial Water Survey uses three questionnaires to collect data from respondents. A separate questionnaire was designed for each of the three sectors surveyed, i.e., one for manufacturing, one for the mineral extraction industries, and another for fossil-fuel and nuclear electric power generation. 2017 is the first year that IWS is using an electronic questionnaire (EQ).Prior to the implementation of the EQ, the questionnaire was tested on survey respondents to ensure that the concepts were clearly understood and that respondents were able to answer the questions correctly.

The questionnaires collect data on the volume of water brought into the facility, including information on the source, purpose, treatment, and possible recirculation of this water, by industrial users. As well, data are collected on the volumes of water discharged and treatment of this discharged water by industrial users. Cost information on the intake and discharge of water is also collected.

The questionnaires were developed in collaboration with data users in order to meet their statistical needs. Respondents were also consulted through individual meetings to ensure the information being asked was available and that the questionnaire could be filled out within a reasonable timeframe.

All questionnaires were revised in 2017 after they were tested on focus groups made up of survey respondents.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The frame used for sampling purposes is the Statistics Canada Business Register, with the observed population comprised of all manufacturing, selected mining and all thermal-electric locations. The statistical unit is the location. The location, is defined as a producing unit at a single geographical site at which economic activity is conducted and for which, employment data are available.

The population size was 126 608 manufacturing locations (NAICS 31-33), 736 mining locations (NAICS 2121, 2122, 2123, excl. 21232) and 136 thermal-electric power generating plants (NAICS 221112, 221113).

There is an independent sampling strategy for each of the three sectors.
- A census approach is used to obtain information from each of the approximately 136 thermal-electric power generating stations in Canada. A stratified Bernoulli random design is used for sample selection in the manufacturing and mineral extraction sectors.
- In the mining sector, locations are stratified by province and by 4-digit NAICS industry. All of the approximately 383 in-sample units receive a questionnaire.
- In the manufacturing sector, locations are stratified by drainage region, by industry, and by size group (four groups) based on water consumption. To reduce response burden on small units, the smallest units of the industries of interest are excluded from sampling. In each combination of industries, locations that make up the bottom 5% of the size measure by drainage region were excluded. Some specific industries, identified as large consumers of water are selected with certainty; the rest of the population is sampled with varying sampling fractions, depending on the industry. All of the approximately 5 073 in-sample units receive a questionnaire.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2018-05-02 to 2018-09-26

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using the electronic questionnaire (EQ) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). The collection begins by emailing invitation letters and Secure Access Code letters to respondents. Phone and email follow-ups will be done for enterprises that had not yet responded.

Mail-out occurs in the year following the reference year and is directed to an "environment manager or coordinator". Respondents are asked to return the completed questionnaires within 28 days of receipt. Mail out is only done for paper on a request basis.

Telephone and fax follow-up are used to obtain data from respondents who returned incomplete questionnaire or whose questionnaires are outstanding 28 days after the mail-out

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

To be updated post collection.


To be updated post collection.


To be updated post collection.

Quality evaluation

To be updated post collection.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Statistics Canada's generalized G-Confid system is used to prevent the identification of all data points that are confidential as well as those data points that needed to be suppressed to prevent the residual disclosure of those confidential data points.

A discretionary disclosure order (DDO) pursuant to paragraph 17(2)(g) of the Statistics Act was obtained to allow increased disclosure of aggregate information from the Industrial Water Survey: Fossil-Fuel and Nuclear Electric Power Generating Plants. The DDO permits the release of industrial water use by region and province, allowing the dissemination of a complete national profile of water use for this sector.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

To be updated post collection.

Data accuracy

To be updated post collection.

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